rooted, but still growing

Archive for May 2008

Today is my birthday. I am 27 years old.

 

In thinking about the length of a year, it’s hard to imagine that I’ve existed 27 of them. In many ways I still feel like a kid – still wondering where my life will lead and the type of person I will become. It startles me a little to know that it’s been nine years since I graduated from high school and that my college years are now memories. The government classifies me as an adult and I have all the documentation to prove it – the driver’s license, voter registration card, health insurance card with my name on it. I’m too far over the threshold to get away with blaming bad decisions on a young age. There’s a sign indicating the point of old enough to know better, and at some point I passed it.

 

I’m not one to mourn the loss of youth, because quite frankly, there’s nothing I can do about it. Life is a progression and requires you to move forward. Life is also a learning process and — if it’s even possible — it takes a lifetime to learn all there is to know about relationships, humanity, and living in general. I’m looking forward to each new lesson and can only hope I get to be one of the lucky ones who get to soak up as much as possible over an extended life span.

 

Looking at some old pictures last night I realized how much my life has changed. I’m fortunate to say that it has been for the better. I’m not only older now, but much more accomplished and confident. I’ve been through some rather … interesting … situations, all of which have molded me into a person I’m proud to be, the person I am today. Looking at those photos, I wondered if that girl, the one so happy and relaxed on the day of her high school graduation party, could ever have imagined what was about to unfold. The friends, the heartbreaks, the fun, the jobs, the experiences … all waiting to reveal themselves.

 

Could I have imagined it then? No. I don’t recall exactly how, at age 18, I thought my life would develop but I can say with assurance that this wasn’t exactly it. My teenage version was much simpler, devoid of uncertainty and complication. What I got instead was about seven years of not knowing what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be. In the midst of it, the only thing I was certain of was that it was hard. It was hard to pour a soul into a series of thankless jobs, to force myself to be a good person, to forgive another person’s discretions when all I truly wanted was for the situation to not exist.

 

It would be a lie, however, to claim I didn’t learn from it. Because of those circumstances, good and bad, I’m stronger. I’m more patient. Less jealous. I don’t worry as often, and my calm-to-freak out ratio is much improved. I have a better ability to see things as they are … and, as necessary, accept them as they are. I can also recognize when things must change and I now have the means to change them as I see fit.

 

I could provide a list of all the things in my life right now that make me happy, but I won’t. Just take comfort in knowing that there is a list, and it’s a lengthy one.

 

Today is my birthday. I am 27 years old.

 

 

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The Great Kid Swap of 2008 took place this weekend and thankfully occurred with no hiccups. Naturally, I was dreading the trip because, well, who willingly puts themselves in a small car for a 12-hour trip to Wisconsin just to turn around and come home five minutes later?

 

This year, however, was very different and much better than last year’s trip. There was so much to be nervous about last summer – meeting K1 for the first time, meeting the ex for the first time, seeing Steve as a dad for the first time. It was so much easier this time because we knew what to expect. In fact, we picked up right where we left off last year, telling stupid jokes and quizzing each other on pointless trivia. It was seamless, and it was great.

 

The best part, though, is seeing Steve so happy to have his boy with him for a while, and K1 so happy to be with his dad. Today they drove to Columbus to watch the practice rounds of the Memorial Golf Tournament, which is a stop on the PGA tour. Both of them love golf, so they jumped at the chance to possibly rub elbows with professional players. It was also a good opportunity to do “guy” stuff (like curse, burp, eat too many cheeseburgers and tell dirty jokes).

 

The rest of the summer promises to be busy. We’ve got a weeklong trip to the beach planned, as well as jaunts to Cedar Point and a few concerts. K1 is already making a laundry list of things he wants to do in West Virginia – fishing, swimming, Jeeping, etc. Things will also get busier when we pick N up at the airport in a few weeks. I have this foreboding feeling that things with N this summer will either go really well or terribly, terribly wrong. I’m hoping that Steve will get to spend more one-on-one time with both boys. It seemed last year that I was doing the bulk of the “parenting” because Steve had just received a pretty important promotion and was (understandably) busy trying to learn the ropes and make a good impression, so he wasn’t able to take off as much work as we would have liked. It’s very interesting to watch him be a father, to search for that balance between “buddy” and “dad”. It has to be difficult for him, to want to make up for so much lost time but also knowing that he has to be the disciplinarian, the guide, the role model. In a way I feel like that third party who can point out things that may go unnoticed, or provide a sane voice in the midst of confusion (yeah, I’m laughing at that statement, too).

 

If having these boys for the summer every year serves no other purpose, at least it will be a learning experience. I’m at a place in my life right now where my thoughts and ideas about my future life seem to be changing, and one of the big questions I find myself asking is whether I want children at all. If you had asked me a year ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated before answering with a firm “yes.” And to an extent, I think my answer is still yes, just with a “but not right now” added on to the end. I see my friends with their children, so happy, so cute, and at times I want that too. But then I remember that children require diaper changing and feedings and baths and on and on for 18 years and quite frankly I don’t know yet if I’m up for that challenge. I want children someday, but I’m just not ready quite yet. There are still things that need done, I suppose.

 

Interestingly, I’ve started noticing signs that indicate I’m already in Mommy Mode. Here’s the evidence:

 

1.) I asked “are you hungry?” and “do you need to use the bathroom?” about 15 times an hour on our trip home.

2.) I took the child’s-sized soda at the movie theater and let him have my bladder-buster so he’d feel grown-up.

3.) I checked on him this morning before I left for work.

4.) There’s now a portable dvd player hanging in the backseat of my car.

5.) That fine line between appropriate language and not appropriate language? Totally walking it.

6.) I was referred to as a parent. Not step-parent, not dad’s girlfriend, but parent.

 

That last one is effin sweet. I guess we’re doing something right, after all.

 

You should seriously see me right now. I’m wrapped in a bathrobe on the couch in my living room, hair dripping onto my shoulders, teeth whitening strips wedged firmly between lips and gums. Why? Well, because I can.

I had great plans of using my week alone to clean the house, exercise and do such fun things as cleaning out closets and the garage. Ha! This is actually the first night I’ve gotten to come straight home from work and I’ve chosen instead to spend it shaving my legs and watching American Idol. 

Not that I haven’t been productive. I’ve made great progress on several projects at work, and I’m caught up with my homework through next week. The most exciting thing, though, is that I set the wheels in motion for us to possibly purchase this house. I spoke with a financial guy today to get us prequalified for lending before our next meeting with the realtor. I should have a prequalification letter on Tuesday if things go well. I am surprised — and a bit disconcerted — that it was so easy to do, and even more so that I’m so calm about it. I suppose I imagined that “becoming ready” to buy a house would involve many long evenings spent crunching numbers, weekends searching through real estate listings and dragging ourselves out to look at yet one more property. 

So the fact that we saw this house on Saturday (and by “saw” I mean “drove by”) and a mere four days later are on the path to possibly owning it … well, sounds a bit crazy I guess. I’m of the “let’s plan and prepare and plan and prepare until we’re ready to kill each other” school and this … calmness … about such a huge decision and investment is strange. 

But good. I’m practically frothing at the thought of possibly getting to paint walls, plant flowers and dig a garden. A garage I could actually park my car in. A place for my puppy to play. A back deck on which to relax, sipping a nice glass of wine or a beer, hanging with friends and family. Counter space! Linen closets! 

Of course, a lot could happen between now and next week, so I’m trying to be cautious and not allow myself to get too excited about this. But I am hopeful — it will be so nice to have a place that’s actually our own. 

Here’s a little sneak peek at what we’re looking at:

It\'s small, but it\'s just enough for the two of us.

Front View

Nice and clean!

Living Room

Kitchen — we’d need to buy a few appliances.

Master Bath — or part of it, at least. Look– there are multiple cabinets AND a linen closet! Such luxury.

Back Deck

So, yeah. It’s small, it’s simple, but I think it’s just right for us at this point in our lives. I mean, I can barely keep my car clean, so what the heck would I do with a ginormous house?

I spent a great deal of time yesterday staring at the photos, imagining how I would decorate — which paint colors would go in which room, what sorts of nice things I could get to place on the walls, the types of rugs to get for the floor. I really should stop doing that!

As for the puppy, I call my parents every day to ask how she’s doing and get the same answer each time — she’s fine. As if it’s silly to call and check on my dog every day. Twice a day. Whatever. I’m told she’s making friends with the other dogs, particularly my brother’s hound Hutch, and is enjoying running around in the yard and eating every last bit of food my dad gives her (the supply, I hear, is pretty much continuous). 

Yeah, so that’s how my week has gone … it’s been rather lonely, with no Waylon and Steve off living it up in Las Vegas. I suppose I should be grateful for these few days of rest, for on Saturday it’s off to Wisconsin to pick up a child. It’s not the child I’m concerned about — he’s great. It’s the 12 hours in the car one day, 12 hours the next thing that has be a bit panicked. I’m usually a good traveler, but the thought of spending that much time couped up is dreadful. Must take a good book. And sleep.

A lot. 

A few months ago, Steve and I selected a wedding date for the summer of 2009. Ideas immediately began swirling in my head – what kind of dress, who to choose for attendants, colors, and so on. Because I’m big on planning (often to an annoying fault), the first things I wanted to get settled after choosing a date were the locations for the ceremony and reception.

 

We knew we wanted the wedding to take place in my hometown, because that’s where we met and where a majority of our close family and friends still live. It’s a small town in the hills of West Virginia; thus there aren’t really that many options unless you want to do something outdoors. With my natural ability to freak. the. eff. out. about things not going according to plan, I decided I didn’t want to risk bad weather and opted instead to look for some nice indoor venues. The nicest by far is Halliehurst, a historic mansion on the campus of Davis & Elkins College. After meeting with the event coordinator and going over a few things, I paid a deposit and booked it. Easy-peasy.

 

Because the wedding will be in my hometown and the reception in a place I chose, it was important to incorporate some elements of Steve’s life into our planning. It just so happens that his cousin is pastor of a nice, large church in the same town. It seemed only natural to have the wedding at that church, and I charged Steve with the task of calling his cousin to find out the requirements and whether our date was available.

 

Silly me, I forgot that Steve is a man and despite my months-long prodding and nagging, he never did make that phone call. Exasperated, I contacted the church myself. A few days later I received a very nice letter from his cousin, along with the church’s wedding policies.

 

Or should I say wedding laws? Seriously, this list of rules had to have been written by a committee of Puritans. Among them:

 

n      The pastor and the associate pastor will only marry born-again Christians. The Bible teaches we are not to be “unequally yoked.” (I guess eggs get a free pass.)

 

n      Both need to be faithful church attendants or willing to become faithful church attendants and start immediately here at (church’s name).

 

n      The pastor and associate pastor will not marry those living together unless they are willing to live separate and apart until after the wedding ceremony.

 

n      No wedding will be conducted in our auditorium when intoxicating beverages are served at the reception, even if the reception is held away from the church property.

 

n      All music must be approved by the associate pastor four weeks prior to the rehearsal and wedding.

 

n      All weddings must use the church wedding coordinator.

 

Now, I understand and respect that a church is a place of worship, not a drive-through chapel in Vegas. I also completely respect that this church belongs to its congregation, and if these rules are what the pastor and members have agreed must dictate wedding ceremonies that take place there, well, okay. They have their beliefs and I have mine, so fine. I’m not conforming my life to fit their criteria, and I can’t expect them to bend the church rules for me.

 

But I have to admit that I felt … bad? ashamed? embarrassed? when I read that letter. For a brief second, it seemed that Steve and I weren’t “good” enough to be married in their church, simply because we happen to live together (and have for the past three years) and enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage. And the thing is, I can understand those requirements far more than I can the others. I didn’t know a church could govern the behavior of wedding guests outside the church, nor was I aware that churches could MAKE you begin attending “faithfully.” Do they rip up the marriage certificate if you don’t show up for services the next day?

 

This is an example of why, for the past few years, I have chosen to stay away from organized religion. So many rules, so much passing of judgment, so much … crap. I want to get married in a church because I like the idea of a marriage being blessed by God – a God in which, by the way, I do believe. What I don’t like is the idea of worrying about making the wrong song selection or having a lightning bolt strike me dead because I – gasp! – have had “relations” with a man. Come on! You show me a person who, in today’s world, waited until marriage to have sex and I’ll show you my grab-bag of socially stunted cousins who were so prudish that I’m convinced the reason they’re having difficulty having children now that they’re married  is because they’re doing it wrong. (Can’t get pregnant with your clothes on … ).

 

It’s really no big deal – we’re looking into getting married at my home church, which is beautiful and convenient and every bit as meaningful as the other. I guess I’m just disappointed that so many churches still adhere to such divisive doctrine. Believe me, if I ever do decide to get back into the Sunday morning church routine, it sure as heck won’t be at one of this particular denomination. So much for spreading the love.

Quiet.

Posted on: May 19, 2008

There’s a lot going on here on the homefront, and the commotion is only going to grow louder. And yet it’s quiet — the calm before the storm, you might say. Except in this case, the storm isn’t necessarily going to be bad. In fact, it could be very exciting. We’ll have to see how the next few days pan out. 

The biggest reason it’s so quiet around here right now is that I had to send my four-footed baby away today. When we got Waylon, our beagle puppy, we knew there were some restrictions with our townhouse. We chose to chance it to see if perhaps we could get away without paying the extra monthly fee as well as an outrageous deposit (the same freaking amount as the deposit required to LIVE here, on top of the monthly fee). Our neighbors, who own one of Waylon’s littermates, followed this same path.

Well, last week we got caught. Or, more specifically, the neighbors got caught, and we believed it was only a matter of time before we became the next target. The landlord … well, she wasn’t budging. To make matters even more complicated, Waylon was irritating the ever-loving-crap out of Steve with her whining and slowness to adapt to the normal rules of housetraining. In an effort to save ourselves a pile of money and make an attempt to “reform” my spoiled little dog, today I dropped her off at my parents’ house for what I like to refer to as “puppy summer camp.” 

I feel like crap — I miss her so much tonight, although it has been nice to not have to repeat “Waylon, NO!” a thousand times. I do think it will be best. I don’t think there’s anyone on the face of the planet who knows more about dogs than my dad, and I know he’ll take excellent care of her. Plus, he has a bunch of dogs and I’m positive they will help her become more socialized. Still. I miss her.

I didn’t want to send her away, but I agreed on the condition that we would get her back as soon as we found a house and could provide her a nice yard to run in, and we wouldn’t have to worry about paying a ridiculous fee just to have a pet. The good news? We’ve found a house that, as of now, seems absolutely perfect for us — and I’m going to look at it tomorrow evening after work. It’s only one mile from where Steve works, and would not affect the distance I drive to work, either. So far it meets all of our required criteria: Three bedrooms, two baths, two-car garage, an acre of land, country setting, convenient to town and amenities we’re used to. It was built in 2007 and is vacant, so I’m presuming that it has never been lived in. 

I’m so excited about the possibility of buying a house that I can barely contain myself. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much, because you never know how things can go with real estate, and we’re first-time homebuyers which basically means we know nothing about buying a home. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though, and have a laundry list of questions for the realtor tomorrow.

Steve will be in Las Vegas this week for business junk, and on Saturday we drive to BFE Wisconsin to pick up K1. I’m excited about that — much less nerve-wracking this time around. He’s a great kid, and I can’t wait to spend some more time with him. 

I also start a new class tomorrow in my master’s program — I’m now more than halfway done, which also excites me. This time next year, I’ll be done! 

So, yeah. It’s busy around here. A good busy. A hopeful busy. Say a prayer — we need a house and I miss my dog! 

The universe is seriously messing with me. I’ve been begging — pleading, even — with the gods for some down time. What do they oh-so-graciously bestow upon me? A CHALLENGE.

Yup, instead of a nice, quiet evening spent accomplishing things I need to get done before the weekend rolls around, I get to come home tomorrow evening to a house filled with boys. Loud boys. Grown up boys and little boys. A hyper dog. A final project that must be completed by 11:55 p.m. Saturday, with a conference call with my project teammates at 9 p.m. Friday night. A messy house (most assuredly). Chaos. Destruction. Doom. Oh – oh- and Sunday, I get to drive at least 2 hours to pick up my sister. I’ll probably have to do this by myself because, you know, my significant other will have important things he wants to do Sunday (like sleep, surf the Internet and watch television).

I’m so freaking frustrated and angry right now that I’m tempted to throw something — but I won’t because I know I’ll just have to clean it up myself. On top of all this, I’m missing Grey’s Anatomy because of my stupid homework and I’m seriously considering hiding out at work until at least 10 p.m. tomorrow just so I can have some freaking time to myself.

So all right, universe. I see how it is. I’m going to have to fight for it, eh? All I’ve gotta say is everyone better steer clear of me in the next 24 to 48 hours because I’m at the boiling point and I’m pretty sure there will be no survivors.

BLARGH!!

As a former newspaper reporter and editor, it’s probably more than a little sacrilegious to admit that I abhor the news. I’m all for being an informed citizen, but I’m quite frankly so sick of Miley Cyrus, Democratic presidential candidates, housing slumps and rising gas prices that I could very well puke all over my badly-needing-a-pedicure feet at any moment. I was a bit bummed yesterday to learn that the cable box for our bedroom television has gone kaplooey; but my outlook brightened when I realized it meant I would be no longer tempted to use the Today Show as background noise.

 

Despite this aversion, I do sometimes glance at news online, mostly when I’m bored and can’t find anything else on the Internet to capture my attention. Lately I’ve read a few articles on the importance of “man caves”. For those of you not familiar with the term, a man cave is an area of a home strictly designated for genteel male activities like eating Cheetos, drinking beer, surfing porn and scratching balls. It’s a no-girls-allowed zone meant to provide comfort and familiarity for tired, weary gentlemen who apparently seek respite from the big, scary world of all things feminine. You know, ‘cause it’s hard work lugging that penis around all day.

 

While I could go on and on about the sheer ridiculousness of the notion that men – and only men – need their own safe havens away from the realities of everyday life (as if they are the only ones stressed by jobs, housework and children), I am instead choosing to use this space to promote the idea of personal space for everyone, regardless of gender. Why? Because it just so happens I’m in desperate need of one of those myself.

 

I don’t have children. I have a dog and a fiancé, which at this point are just about all I can handle. I guess the fact that I am in possession of a vagina automatically pinpoints me as the household caregiver as cleaning, feeding and nurturing somehow dominate my daily activities (which include a full-time job and working on a master’s degree.)

 

 Let’s be clear – I’m not complaining about having a fiancé and puppy, nor am I wishing to eradicate myself of these duties. I’m just sayin’ mama’s tired and she needs a break.

 

Also, life is on schedule to become much busier in a few weeks with the arrival of N and K1 for the summer. My handicapped sister wants to visit for a week, and we can’t forget the usual Mother’s Day drama in which my future mother-in-law casts down a lightning bolt of guilt, striking all children and those of us guilty by association squarely in the balloon knots for not adequately expressing our affection.

 

So, yes, a space and some time to myself sound divine right now. The perfect scenario would be a room with a nice clean desk, some filing cabinets, a bookshelf and a big, comfy chair with a side table and reading lamp. It would be free from television, radio, guitar plucking, whining puppies and loud telephone conversations.

 

You’re probably shocked at the absence of bon-bons, scantily clad Greek men and giant palm leaves. Ah, that’s a fantasy for another day. Right now, I just want some peace, quiet and the ability to complete the things I want and need to get done.

 

I don’t think it’s asking too much, nor do I think it’s a selfish request. In fact, this situation is treacherously close to becoming a requirement unless someone wants to volunteer to mop up bits of my exploded head from the kitchen floor. I need it for my sanity and health. My brain has been in a funk lately, unable to focus on anything other than the automatic, mindless drivel so abundantly available in this world. I need quiet, I need time to explore, think and reflect. I want to appreciate the relationships I have and feed myself knowledge on subjects of my choosing.

 

I’m not quite sure where I’ll find such a place. I do know that wherever it is, maintaining it will require some discipline on my part because I find it’s far too easy to allow myself to get distracted or to allow unwelcome visitors. I plan to run my new world with an manicured iron fist.

 

So to all would-be interrupters: Consider the Keep Out! sign posted.